Utah County Birders Newsletter
August, 1999
Volume 4, Number 8

Annual Utah County Birders Picnic

Friday, August 20th, 7:00 p.m.
Natalie and Dave Tanner's
1681 North 2000 West (Grandview)
Provo (377-3565)

To insure variety in the meal, we encourage you to bring the following for 8-10 people, based on the beginning letter of your last name:

A - F Salad (fruit or vegetable)
G - M Dessert
N - Z Main dish

September Meeting

Tuesday, September 14th, 7:00 pm. (Please note date change due to conflict at Bean Museum ) Bean Museum Auditorium

Ann Neville, Wildlife Manager, Kennecott Wetlands Property

Ann will speak on the birds of the Great Salt Lake wetlands and her recent trip to  Lake Baikal, Russia. She will also prepare us for the following Saturday's field trip.

Field Trip

Saturday, September 18th, 6:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Trip to the Kennecott Wetlands on the southern edge of the GSL. Meet at Bean Museum. Ann Neville will lead us to this unique and private wildlife reserve.


by Darlene Amott

Not too long ago, I wrote an article extolling the virtues of birding in Utah. I believed what I said then and still do. However, dreams are the things life is made of. Dreaming (unless brought to reality) is inexpensive and can brighten up a dull afternoon. The trip to Belize last winter was, in part, a fulfillment of a dream, but it seemed to whet the appetite rather than satisfy it. I am back to dreaming. I dream about places to go, things to do, and birds to see, particularly birds to see.

Many of you remember Flora Duncan, a former active birding association member, who is now in Thailand serving a mission teaching English. From time to time I receive an e-mail from her listing the birds she has seen recently. She talks of a Javan Pond Heron, a Streaked-eared Bulbul, and a Hair-crested Drongo among others. Recently she mentioned a Purple swamp Hen, a Plain Prinia, a Bronze-winged Jacana, a Lesser Whistling Duck, a Purple Heron, a Common Koel, an Olive-backed Sunbird, a Chai Nat Bird, a Sooty-headed Bulbul, and a Greater Coucal. These are exotic names, and without the aid of pictures, it is difficult to know what the birds look like. However, it is possible and fun to dream a bit to create mental pictures of these exotic birds to match the names. Other birds have been suggested by Sybelle and Sam Blackham, who recently returned from a mission in Argentina. They used to talk of birds they were seeing which had equally intriguing names like Red-rumped Cacique, Bare-throated Bellbird, and Rufous Hornero. Ned Hill mentioned some of the birds he had seen on his recent trips. The names sounded like something only dreamers could conjure up.

I wonder what picture the name Wood Duck, or Yellow-billed Cuckoo, or Ferruginous Hawk, or Wilson's Phalarope, or Ovenbird stirs up in the mind of someone who has never been here. (It was hard to find Utah birds with exotic sounding names because the names are too familiar.) If you had never seen a Harlequin Duck, what would you picture? In drama, a harlequin is a comic pantomime character who usually wears diamond patterned tights of many colors. Is that the picture that would come to your mind? The markings of the harlequin bird could be said to give it a comical look, but there is definitely no diamond pattern. Surely, the names common to us are exotic to others in the world, and become the stuff of dreams for them.

Dreaming is fun, but I think it is time to take a break. It is time turn dreams to reality, to hop in the car, and go see some of Utah's "exotic" birds. See you at the next field trip.

Robin's View

by Robin Tuck

Birds of a feather...

I always get a kick whenever I remember the old song

I can tell by your outfit that you are a cowboy
You can tell by my outfit that I'm a cowboy too.
We can tell by our outfits that we are both cowboys,
If you get an outfit, you can be a cowboy too.

Almost invariably, right after I remember this song a similar bumper-sticker comes to mind, "I'm not a Cowboy, I just found the hat." So, I am just standing there minding my own business when this fellow steps up and asks "Are you a bird watcher?" So I think to my self "How'd he know?" and answer, "Well, yes I am." I guess my binoculars and field guide were a dead give-away. Plumage.

Perhaps, it's more than 'outfits' and accouterments. Once a friend and were working outside together when a bird flew by. Instinctively, I stopped talking mid sentence, and turned, watching the bird. My friend looked up and said "Aha, caught you bird watching." "Guilty as charged," I replied. Behavior.

I almost couldn't resist asking a lady in the book section if she was a birder. She stood there clutching a field guide, but hesitantly put it back. Almost a birder, maybe soon. Habitat.

There they are, the three ways to uniquely identify a birder; plumage, behavior and habitat. Seems we are not so different from our quarry.

PS. I would have added vocalizations, but I won't pish or kiss the back of my hand with ordinary people present.

Favorite Birds of Argentina

by Sybelle & Sam Blackham

At the outset, you need to know that I am very much a novice when it comes to identifying birds. My wife is much better at it than I. During the 16 months that we were in Argentina recently, we were able to identify some 60 species, most of which were "lifers" for the two of us. To aid us, we used South American Birds by John S. Dunning - a gift from Darlene and Carol Jean.

We lived in the province of Misiones, which is located in the far northeast part of Argentina. It has a sub-tropical climate with heavy vegetation. Misiones is called la tierra colorada because of its rolling hills of red, rich soil. Most of the year it is rather hot and humid and everything grows in rich abundance. It is an ideal habitat for birds.

We have a list of the 60 species we were able to identify with the name of the bird in both English and Spanish. Most were seen right close to our home in Obera or as we traveled about Misiones or between Obera and Resistencia, Chaco. Darlene has asked that I try to describe some that became our favorites.

One of the first with which we became acquainted was the RUFOUS HORNERO, a rust-brown bird that would perch on the top of the telephone poles and with a sharp call, announce that he was "king of the hill." The Spanish for oven is "horno", and the hornero derives its name from its dome-shaped nest that it makes on the cross bars of telephone poles. The nest is made of red mud with a round hole for an entrance and has the appearance of an oven.

Another rather striking bird that we saw for the first time in the little town of San Javier is the GUIRA CUCKOO. A rather large bird with a long tail, yellow beak and eye, and ruffled up feathers on its head and neck that gave it a rather wild, wind-blown look. We referred to this one as the "Phyllis Diller" bird. There is quite a resemblance.

In the evenings, we would very often see a "platoon" of SMOOTH-BILLED ANIS. They are a large black bird with a thick, heavy bill much like a grosbeak. We referred to them as the "platoon" because there would usually be several of them that would come sailing in one after another for a landing in one of the large trees near the house. They gave the impression of a platoon of B-24s coming in for a landing.

The bird that is one of the favorite symbols of Argentina, especially in Misiones, is the toucan. We saw our first toucans in captivity in a lovely bird park in Obera that the city has provided for a very nice elderly lady, Freda, to exhibit her collection of some 300 birds. There were basically two species, the TOCO TOUCAN, and the RED-BREASTED TOUCAN. One morning in the large avocado tree at the back of our house, we were thrilled to see in the wild four RED-BREASTED TOUCANS with the large, pea green bill, red rump, upper throat yellow turning into orange and red breast. At first we thought they had escaped from the bird park. We were excited to be able to watch them close up for about an hour. Soon after this we also saw a CHESTNUT-EARED ARACARI in one of the plazas. This is a smaller, very colorful, toucan with its black and yellow bill, green tail, and red band across its belly.

Well, I'd better finish. My favorite of all the birds was the GREAT KISKADEE. It was as common to us in Obera as the Robins are here. All over the city you could hear them calling to one another "kiss-ka-dee", "look-at-me", and indeed the were fun to see. There are a lot of things about Argentina that we miss, and one of them is the kiskadee. If you ever decide to make a field trip to Argentina, count us in!!

A Brief Field Trip Report

Uinta Mountains

August 7th, 1999

All target birds were seen except for the illusive Williamson's Sapsucker. A family of Pine Grosbeaks was seen at the North Provo River Falls along with a bunch (a bobbing, perhaps) of American Dippers. Red Crossbills, were seen above the falls area on the left side of the road. Rosy Finches were seen on the top of Bald Mountain after a brisk hike, while the non-hikers had great looks at an adult and a juvenile Three-toed Woodpeckers near the trailhead restrooms. Gray Jays were seen at the camping areas at Mirror Lake as well as along the Highland Trail nearby.

There were 16 Birders who made the trip on a beautiful summer day--you can't get much better than that unless you happen to see some Williamson's Sapsuckers or maybe a White-winged Crossbill--now we're dreaming!

State Hotline Highlights

From the Reports of Mark Stackhouse


Josh Kreitzer, Priscilla & Steve Summers, Lew Wilkinson - Eight BLACK ROSY-FINCHES were seen on Delano Peak in the Tushar Mountains on Saturday, 07/17).


Harold John, Mark Stackhouse & Lyn Christiansen, Larene Wyss - Thousands of shorebirds of various species have been congregating at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (BRMBR) over the past few weeks. Significant finds this week include a RED KNOT, seen among a flock of Wilson's Phalaropes about 1 mile east of the refuge entrance on Tuesday, 07/27 (HJ,MS), and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, seen at the northwest corner of the auto-tour loop on Tuesday, 07/27 (HJ,MS), Thursday, 07/29 (JC,MS) and Friday, 07/30 (LC,LWy).

Harold John, Mark Stackhouse & Jeffery Carlson- Other good birds seen recently at BRMBR include an AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER on Tuesday, 07/27 (HJ,MS), and a PECTORAL SANDPIPER and a flock of about 12 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS on Thursday, 07/29 (JC,MS). All of these sightings were from the mudflats along the east side of the auto-tour loop.


Jeffery Carlson, Mark Stackhouse - At least 10 BURROWING OWLS were seen in the area just west of the visitor's center on Antelope Island on Tuesday, 07/20.

Leon & Steve Coleman - An INDIGO BUNTING was seen in Farmington Canyon on Saturday, 07/24. The bird was seen just beyond the Bountiful Peak picnic area.


Suzanne Boschen - A POMARINE JAEGER was seen at Fish Springs NWR on Tuesday, 07/20, and again on Wednesday, 07/21. The bird was in the Pintail Unit of the refuge, and was seen early in the morning on both occasions (SB). Efforts to locate the bird later in the day on Wednesday were unsuccessful. Birders may wish to call the refuge at 522-5353 (local call in Salt Lake City) to get the latest information. This is the second record of Pomarine Jaeger in Utah.

Brian Maxfield - A male RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD was seen in North Canyon on Mount Nebo on Sunday, 07/18.

Edward & Joseph Conrad - A WHIMBREL was seen at Fish Springs NWR on Saturday, 07/24.


David Allan - A BENDIRE'S THRASHER was seen about 2 miles south of Lynndyl on the "sinks" road, on Sunday, 07/18 (DA). The "sinks" road is a gravel road between US 6 and SR 125 about 2 miles north of Oak City.


Bob & Georgine Bond - At least two, and possibly three WINTER WRENS were heard singing along the Big Water trail in Millcreek Canyon on Saturday, 07/17.


Tuula Rose - Shorebirds are appearing in good numbers on the Swede Lane mudflats west of Springville. On Wednesday, 07/21, MARBLED GODWITS, WESTERN SANDPPIPERS and LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS were among the birds seen there.

Brian Maxfield - At the north end of 4000 West in Lakeshore, MARBLED GODWITS and LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS were seen on Saturday, 07/17.

Mark Stackhouse - A male RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD was seen visiting a feeder at Sundance Resort on Wednesday, 07/21.

Brian Maxfield - A small flock of RED CROSSBILLS was seen at the Nebo Bench trailhead along the Nebo Loop Road on Tuesday, 07/27.


David Allen (of NV) - The ELF OWL, which has been heard calling in a large cottonwood tree at Lytle Ranch, was again heard and seen in the same place on the evening of Wednesday, 07/21. Another Elf Owl was heard calling while the first bird was in sight. They were in the very large, lone cottonwood about 1/4 mile north of the caretaker's house, just south of the pond, at the junction of the hillside trail and the main trail up the wash. This is the first record of Elf Owl in Utah.

Josh Kreitzer, Lew Wildinson - A ZONE-TAILED HAWK was seen at the Pine Park Campground west of Enterprise on Saturday, 07/31 (JK,LW). The bird was first seen at about 10 am, and was observed for about an hour. To get to Pine Park, go west from Enterprise for 16 miles to the road to Pine Park, and follow that road for 10 miles to the campground. This is the third record of Zone-tailed Hawk in Utah.

David Wheeler, Mark Stackhouse - Two NASHVILLE WARBLERS were seen in the Pine Valley Mountains on Sunday, 07/25. The birds were about 1/2 mile up the Brown's Point Trail.